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Published 5 November 2016

Chief: '20 Standing Rocks' if Canada Ignores Indigenous Consent

The Trudeau government declared Thursday it does not need First Nations consent on natural resource projects, angering First Nations.

Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon made his remarks in response to Liberal Natural Resource Minister Jim Carr´s surprise declaration on Thursday that Canada need only “consult and accommodate” First Nations on natural resource projects taking place on their territory.

“New infrastructure to bring in more oil from the tar sands? Forget it, it’s not going to happen,” said Simon, who is also a lead spokesperson for an anti-pipeline treaty alliance supported by about 85 First Nations. “I don’t care what Jim Carr says that no consent is necessary…Consent, it’s what we are demanding, and he will never get our consent, not for something like this. What if we gave Canada 20 Standing Rocks? I wonder if his position will change then?”

Minister Carr´s declaration contradicts the Trudeau government´s promises to follow Canadian Supreme Court Rulings and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which require “free, prior, and informed consent” of Indigenous Nations to any natural resource projects affecting their traditional and treaty territories.

“We always knew the Trudeau government, a lot of his ministers, are influenced by the fossil fuel industry,” said Simon. “If we keep doing this, our children and their children are going to suffer the brunt of climate change.”

Minister Carr made his comments on the same day two groups of climate activists occupied both his constituency office and that of the Aboriginal Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett. The activists called on the Trudeau government to respect Indigenous land rights and reject the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline which would carry tar sands crude oil through the territory of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation.

The occupations came as a government-convened panel released a report on the Trans Mountain Pipeline project which raised serious questions about the viability of the project given the legal requirement of obtaining the consent of the First Nations affected by the project.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said Friday he expects the Trudeau government to fulfill its commitments on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

“The government endorsed UNDRIP without qualification, and the UN declaration states the requirement of free, prior and informed consent by First Nations over any activities that can impact our rights, our people or our territory,” said Bellegarde.

Chief Simon´s statement came as 75 Mohawks of Kahnawake blockaded a major Canadian Pacific Rail line between Canada and U.S. on Thursday in solidarity with the water protectors in Standing Rock who are challenging the Dakota Access Pipeline project.

A statement released by the Kahnawake People´s Fire said, “There is an injustice that is transpiring by the government to protect the corporations with complete disregard to environmental disasters that will proceed their decision to install the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Canadian and American governments have neglected their obligations to protect the people that they represent, and we are standing for their safety as well.”

On Friday a group of Indigenous land protectors and their allies in the eastern Canadian province of Labrador vowed to resume their protest of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project which threatens to poison their water and food supply .
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